Giles Church, Wormshill TQ
DIOCESE: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Tim Tatton-Brown's Survey 1993
LOCATION: Situated at just over 500ft. above O.D.
on the heavy Clay-with-Flints on the North Downland chalk. The Court
Lodge is just over the road to the north.
DESCRIPTION: In the south wall of the nave, just above the east side
of the porch is a double-splayed window that at first sight looks like
an Anglo-Saxon window. It was revealed in the major restoration of
1879 (and now contains, in the glass, a figure of St Giles
commemorating this restoration). There are no stone quoins and the
external jambs are now covered in cement render, so it is not possible
to be certain that it is an Anglo-Saxon window. It is possible that it
was an early Norman window which later had its external jambs removed.
A church is mentioned here in Domesday Book when the pagan name 'Wodins
Hill' is replaced by 'God's Hill'.
The external north-east corner of the nave (now in the
north chapel) still has small-black, diagonally tooled quoins which
must date from 12th century, while the western pier between the nave
and north aisle has mouldings on either side at abacus level that
suggest that it was originally a central pier for a smaller (? later
12th century) two arched entry into an earlier north aisle. The
irregularity of the arch spacing also suggests this.
In the early 13th century a larger north aisle and
north-east chapel (the Lady Chapel according to later wills) were
added and a new arcade was made along the north side of the nave and
chancel. This arcade has very plain chamfered pointed arches with
equally plain abaci. Though restored in many places, it is possible to
see quite a lot of the original Reigate stone jambs with comb-tooling,
and a few bar-stops. The 2-light east window and the most eastern
lancet in the north wall of the north chapel have medieval chalk-block
jambs and rere-arches. They are both totally restored externally, but
are perhaps originally of a late 13th century date. On the south side
of this chapel is a square headed piscina. This chapel still contains
a fine 'Hutch' chest with an incised decoration on the front. Compare
a similar chest at Graveney church.
After piercing the west wall of the nave a small roughly
square western tower was also added in the early 13th century. It too
has a simple chamfered pointed arch into the nave. Above this arch on
the south side is a now-blocked doorway into the first floor chamber
of the tower. Externally (ie. on the N.W. + S sides), this chamber was
lit by tall lancets. Those on the north and south are now blocked.
There is an earlier (c. 13th cent.) roofline, above the present
roof, in the east face of the tower.
The top stage of the tower above the string-course, was
added in the 15th century. It has Perpendicular, 2-light
trefoil-headed windows under square hood-moulds on the north, west and
south sides and simple small rectangular window above the roof on the
east side. The tower top has a crenellated parapet, and the whole of
the outside of the tower was heavily restored in 1900. Externally it
has a restored knapped-flint face with a slightly sloping plinth on
the north and south sides.
The south doorway into the nave is also perhaps late 13th
century, and there are the remains of an earlier (c. 13th
cent.) window in the south wall of the nave (its Reigate stone west
jamb and Rag sill). It was cut into and replaced by the early 16th
century window. Also in the middle of the south wall of the chancel is
a lancet which was reopened in the 19th century, but is perhaps an
The 3-light east window in the chancel is a fine late
14th century one with good early Perpendicular tracery in its head,
and exceptionally its original stained glass is also there.
Externally, however, the whole of this window has been restored with
renewed Ragstone jambs with Bathstone tracery above.
In the 15th century, two 2-light Perpendicular windows
with square hood-moulds were inserted into the south wall of the
chancel. A similar window was also put into the north aisle. Both are
in Ragstone with much renewal in Bathstone. The fine 2-bay crown-post
roof in the north chapel must also date from the 15th century, as does
the upper stage of the tower (see above). The semi-octagonal Ragstone
bowl of the font (on a built plinth) is also probably 15th century).
Finally, in the early 16th century two-light windows with
nearly rounded heads were inserted into the west wall of the tower and
the south-east side of the nave. Only the former has a square
hood-mould. Also at this time a new rood-loft must have been built.
The now-blocked entrance door to this can be seen on the N.E. side of
the nave (in the north chapel). A Fragment of the base of the
Rood-screen now lies against the north wall of the north chapel. At
about the same date, a stoup was added immediately east of the outside
of the nave doorway, and a rough timber-framed porch was built with a
small crown-post roof. It has large timber arch durns to the south,
and now stands on a restored timber base-plate and flint socle.
Externally it is weather-boarded.
There is a fine early 17th century hexagonal pulpit, with
incised decoration, on the south-east side of the nave. It has,
however lost its sounding board. The north-aisle roof, originally with
a ceiling may also be 17th century. The Creed and Lord's Prayer Boards
(now under the north side of the tower) were apparently made in 1794,
and there is one bell of 1718).
This church was given a very heavy restoration by Joseph
Clarke in 1879-80, and much of the external facing, window jambs, etc.
date from this time. New lancets were added on the north side, as well
as a new 2-light window at the west end of the north aisle. Three new
external buttresses were added and the west side of the chancel arch
was rebuilt. The nave crown-post roof and the chancel roof also date
from this restoration, as do most of the fittings (pews, tile floors,
BUILDING MATERIALS: (Incl. old plaster, paintings, glass, tiles etc.):
The main materials are large local flints, with perhaps a little Caen
stone for early quoins. In the 13th century Reigate stone jambs (as
well as some of chalk) are used. Then Ragstone is used for later
All the heavy 19th century repairs are in Bathstone.
There is medieval glass in the top of the chancel east window (late
14th century coronation of the Virgin), as well as in the North Chapel
N. lancet (now with isothermal glazing) and the S.W. window of the
chancel (in the top lights). Some early iron glazing bars.
EXCEPTIONAL MONUMENTS IN CHURCH: A few early Legers in the north
chapel etc. Part of a medieval grave-slab built into the inside N.
wall of the north chapel.
Royal Arms of George III above S. door of nave (painted in 1974) and
recently put here. There is also an 18th century chamber organ.
CHURCHYARD AND ENVIRONS:
Size & Shape: Quite large area around church, with extension to E.
Boundary walls: Flint + brick boundary on west.
Building in churchyard or on boundary: -
Exceptional monuments: Four fine (?17th cent.) table-tombs of Ragstone
to S.E. chancel - now overgrown and falling apart. Also 1 ? 17th
Ecological potential: ? - Large Yew to N.W. of church.
HISTORICAL RECORD (where known):
Earliest ref. to church: Domesday Book (1086) as Godeselle (also in
Late med. status (vicarage): Rectory
Patron: The Lord of the Manor
Other documentary sources: Hasted V (1798), 564-5. Testamenta Cantiana
(E. Kent, 1907), 374-5 mention burial in churchyard, 1460, 1463 etc.
Also "gilding of an Image of the Trinity to stand in the Beam of
the Roodloft" (1516). Many other lights are mentioned as well as
the altar of Our Lady (1519).
Also 'To the reparation of the arch in the north aisle' (1505).
Reused materials: A few loose architectural fragments on a window sill
in the north aisle.
SURVIVAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL DEPOSITS: ? Good
Outside present church: Good - only a shallow drainage trench around
Quinquennial inspection (date\architect): October 1992. Neil MacFadyan.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT:
A c. 11th century nave, with one south window that may be
Anglo-Saxon. North aisle. north chapel, and west tower added in the
early 13th century. Top stage of tower and various windows added in
the Medieval period.
The wider context: The 'Hutch' chest of the 13th century is a rare
surviving medieval fitting.
Guide Book: Leaflet by Michael Nightingale (Sept. 1987).
Photographs: Kent Churches 1954, p. 144 of the 'Hutch' chest in
the north chapel.
Plans & Early drawings: H. Petrie view from S.E. in 1807.
DATE VISITED: 16th April
REPORT BY: Tim Tatton-Brown